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The city looks different in the rainfall. It's only fleeting moments of clarity between the fast, pelting bullets of rain, and the slow drops running down the glass windowpanes. But in those moments, when Emily can see clear shapes of buildings lit up from the inside, shadows of people dancing in the windows, she can see everything.
But when the empty spaces fill with stinging rainwater, all Emily sees is her reflection a vision of a tired, worn-out, run-down woman, on the brink of breaking into a million little pieces.
It's cold outside tonight. It's cold inside too.
She can imagine warm breath on her neck, soft and exactly the opposite of the heavy pressed upon her. "Let's watch the storm and forget all the other people in this world," she hums gently.
The city looks the same in the rainfall. It's still cold and harsh and mocking. It comes in from all angles and no one no one is protected from it's cold, arching drops. JJ is out on her balcony, the wind whipping her in circles, spinning her so fast that the ground is standing still.
Ghost hands encircle her waist, resting on her bulging stomach. Warm breath tickles her neck, making her want to shudder slightly at the contact. But she knows it's not real, and she knows, that if she does shudder, or shake, or even move an inch, Will is going to assume she's cold and make her come inside for the baby's sake.
She wishes she could hide behind the glass windows, wrapped up in warm, strong, loving arms. His arms are cold, overbearing, supportive everything she doesn't want. He's everything she never wanted in life.
"November storms," she whispers, her words drowned out by the torrent rainfall.
Emily walks away from the window, into the darkness of her apartment, into the sterile, impersonal rooms she calls a home. Home is where the heart is, they say.
Well, what if you don't remember where you left it? She pours herself a glass of water, debates where or not she's hungry. It might be in Denver, Portland, Texas it could be anywhere. It's probably sitting outside a motel room in a one-horse town, waiting for her to come back and pick it up. She probably never will.
She pulls away from the memories, steps back into the harsh reality of life and compartmentalizes exactly how wrong it is to be living in the past.
She takes the memories and files them under "past mistakes and future avoidances," knowing full well that she's simultaneously filing the same memories under the compartment that says, "to be thought about and mulled over often and frequently."
Her life is in shambles, her heart in a bear trap, and she still finds time to put everything in its place. "Typical."
JJ walks towards the sliding door, into the high-wattage lighted room, into the warmth. She'll never tell him that it's warmer outside, where his hands can't touch her, and where he doesn't exist, only for a few moments.
A few moments of respite. Being outside gives her that.
She doesn't realize she said anything until Will looks up and gives her his boyish grin, the one that would make any girl weak in the knees.
Will's smile dropped a centimeter. "I said, what'd you say?"
"I uh " She can't remember if she said anything at all, but he's eyeing her like she did, so she racks her brain, her right unconsciously balancing on her stomach. "November storms."
"What about 'em?" The irony of his question, the wording he uses, isn't lost on her.
"I used to like them," she tells him softly, not really speaking to him, but directing her words in his general direction. "I used to pretend that the power went out." But she stops before she tells him the rest, about being caught in the rain and not really caring.
If she tells him that, he'll attempt to be romantic by pulling her out in the rain. That's her rain, outside is her place.
She hears laughter and her breath catches in her throat. But the moment of hope, the subtle rising of relief is shot down with the realization that the neighbors are too loud again, and the sound of their incessant late night partying is seeping in through the cracks in the walls, taking her silence away.
The storm outside rages on, and inside, behind the glass barrier, behind the cool, calm, collected "Emily-mask," the storm is starting to build. It's gaining speed, breaking apart her files in her mind, letting the rage and loss and anger run rampant through her body. She jerks towards the phone and hastily dials a number by heart, but slams it down on the first ring.
The anger in her is overpowering the little girl calling out for love.
The laughter bleeds in from the walls, the ceilings and its not so much mocking her as it telling her, over and over again, what she can't have.
What she lost. What she'll never get back.
The November storm is blowing the wrong way. It's moving away from her, slipping out of her grasp, instead of moving into her arms.
The laughter of the TV, how it sounds so familiar and real, intrudes upon her silence, breaking her concentration and her will. She rises from the couch with some composure, manages to wiggle herself out of his constricting embrace, and stumbles towards the sliding door.
When she wrenches it open, the rain hits her hard and she welcomes the sting on her bare arms. She's wearing a thin cotton t-shirt, but the rain is as warm as the night, and she doesn't car all the much to begin with. He does though, and he's two steps behind her, rough, calloused fingers clenching her shoulders, trying to gently pull her back inside, where it's warm and safe and where the monsters can get to her.
He's whispering in her neck, but his breath is too sweet and sticky from his beer and his words aren't any comfort. He asks her about the storms in Pennsylvania, why they're so great, but she doesn't answer him, because the storms in Pennsylvania aren't the storms she misses.
It's November again, and it's raining, and she wants to be anywhere else but where she is, with anyone else than who she has.
She wants the storm to pick her, make her a modern day Dorothy, and drop her down into a place where everything is new and exciting, but where there are hints of familiarity. If some Kansas farm girl got her Happy Ending, why can't she? Isn't that what "The Wizard of Oz" was all about anyway?
But the TV is still laughing at her, mocking her, and the wrong hands are still pulling at her shoulders and besides, "The Wizard of Oz" is just a fantasy. Fantasies are never real.
The rain stops, slows down, and Emily comes out of the shadows and watches the city some back to life. People pour out of doorways, flooding the streets in the near dark.
Not one of them realizes that they're treading on her memories, stamping her hopes into the soles of their shoes.
To them, it was just a storm. Storms come and go, and there will probably be another one tomorrow. But tonight, this was more than a storm. This was history being played out as fast as the rain could hit the window, this was a chance to try and heal.
Of course, it didn't help anything, because Emily is still heartbroken, still wishing that the rain would keep going for day, weeks, months, years, until humanity was over and done with.
Until she could breathe again.
The rain finally stops and Will's hands slide off her shoulders. She can hear the parties in the street still raging through the night. They raged through the storm and Goddamnit, they're going to rage well after it's gone. People are resilient like that.
She wishes she could be that way: resilient and protected. She wishes she were strong and brave and silent.
He wants to go outside, and she can see it in his eyes: he wants her to dance in the after mist of the rain with him, like an old romance movie where the leading man, no matter how corny his pickup lines are, and no matter how dramatic the young actress is. They always end up together and the screen cuts to black, and everyone knows that they live happily ever after.
Right now, as she refuses his request, as she tells him "I'm not feeling so well," she's living the dire opposite of happily ever after.
November storms bring back happiness, and when they're over, darkness settles in and she can't find her footing anymore.
D.C. looks different in the rainfall, like something out a mystery novel, where evil lurks in side streets and children lie unsuspecting in their beds, dreaming of futures bright and happy.
Emily imagines that New Orleans doesn't change when it rains, it just gets louder and livelier, just gets brighter and more energetic.
Hell, it's only rain, and even if it is November, and even if it's storming here, it doesn't mean it's storming there, and that thought only leaves Emily feeling farther away from JJ, farther away from happiness and light and warmth than she already is.
It's only rain.
Who said it had to mean anything?
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